See what's on at the

Browse What's On

– Highlights

highlight
Exhibition

MCA Collection: Luminous

09 Mar - 08 Jun

highlight
Exhibition

Light Show

16 Apr - 05 Jul

highlight
Exhibition

Energies: Haines and Hinterding

25 Jun - 06 Sep

Create and Learn at the

All Learning Programs

– Learning Events

highlight
Workshop

Art and Technology in the Classroom

04 Jun, 2.00pm

highlight
Talk

Exchange Series Talk

18 Jun, 11.00am, Creative Studios National Centre for Creative Learning

highlight
Workshop

Creative Connections #1

22 Jun, 9.00am, Creative Studios National Centre for Creative Learning

Find out more about the

About the MCA

– News from inside the MCA

Getting articulate at Light Show

MCA Articulate lets visitors to Light Show respond to artworks in the exhibition. more

Light Perspectives: Christoper Esber

A Light Show blog series to find out how light is used in professional creative practices. This week we hear from Australian Fashion Designer Christopher Esber. more

Reflecting on the Blacktown Native Institution Artist Camps

'History is never static: it lives on through the people and communities that it has shaped, and it is shaped in turn by the telling of it.’ more

View the Collection

Browse Collection

– Spotlights from the collection online

highlight
Volume One: MCA Collection

Works from the MCA Collection on display

highlight
Remain in Light: Photography from the MCA Collections

On tour until October 2015

highlight
ARTIST INTERVIEW

Watch our latest artist interview with Khaled Sabsabi

History of the site

The MCA is located on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. The site which is now called The Rocks was known then as Tallawoladah.

The site of the MCA on the western side of Circular Quay was the landing point of the First Fleet, a flotilla of eleven ships that carried convicts and soldiers from Britain to Australia in 1788. As such it is an extremely significant site in Australian history, marking the location of First Contact between Indigenous and European peoples, as well as the beginning of the country’s colonial history. During early settlement by the Europeans, they built houses, wharves, a gaol, a hospital and Commissariat Stores (established to administer supplies to the burgeoning population of convicts and soldiers) in the area now known as The Rocks. The Art Deco building which the MCA has occupied since 1991 was originally built for the Maritime Services Board, and stands on the site of the Georgian-era Commissariat Store designed by Lieutenant Colonel Foveaux.

The western side of Circular Quay also became a hub of boat building and naval trading activity. Important archaeological remains of the first government dockyard in Australia, established in 1797 by Governor John Hunter RN, lie underneath the new extension to the Museum.

North Sydney Council Historian Ian Hoskins suggests that the presence of a contemporary art museum on this site was an ‘ideal outcome – the creation of a threshold for ideas on a site that had long served as a threshold for people and goods; a place saturated with historical currency after two centuries of change, renewal and debate’.


The Site publication is now available for purchase through the MCA Store online.

Image: Fergus Binns Bennelong Heard First Fleet Through Shell 2006, oil on canvas board, Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Henry Ergas, 2009, Image courtesy and © the artist